P N C O

Mostly photography, with the occasional philosophical contemplation

29: Momentary lapse of reason

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Momentary lapse of reason

When i was younger i sometimes dreamt of being famous. Whether a singer or a movie star, i looked up to the ‘stars’ as a youngster.
Now a little older i realize that being famous comes with a big price. First of all a loss of privacy. Not being able to go somewhere without being recognized. Having to live up to others expectations or disappointing people for not living up to their expectations. What a life. And what is even more striking to me, is that being famous is very likely to inflate the ego.
As i can see what pride does in my very anonymous life far from the cameras and media, i cannot imagine what it’s like to having to deal with those issues on a daily basis. So i rather focus on seeing my life as a movie, a film, an illusory display of the mind. So no need to be in others people movies too!

Lately i’ve noticed a wish for simplicity in my life. Less distractions, less fuzz, less buzz. So basically i long for anonymity, like being in a desert where no one can remember your name, for the lack of reverence. America sang about it beautifully. Longing for anonymity does not mean that i don’t  want to interact with the world. But if you’re anonymous, there are no expectations.
Reading the life stories of Patrul Rinpoche (a famous Tibetan Buddhist teacher from the 19th century) illustrates this with beautiful examples.

The book which was composed by Matthieu Ricard (see Enlightend Vagabond – The Life and Teachings of Patrul Rinpoche for more info) has multiple stories where this great realized master is disguised as a simple nomadic traveler. And disguised is perhaps not the right word, cause it’s a deliberate choice of the master to wander around like this. In being anonymous, Patrul Rinpoche helps beings without limit, not being limited by the formal ceremonies people perform when they would’ve recognized him. He just wants to be and act out of compassion for all beings. To me he sets a wonderful example of the limitlessness of true unconditional compassion. No need to get praise for the achievements as a master, he is humble and helping wherever possible. When i compare this to the way we treat our stars nowadays, the contrast is striking. We glorify Hollywood stars and Grammy award winning artists and take their opinions serious, sometimes more serious than scientific experts or politicians.

The most important thing i’ve learned from Patrul Rinpoche is that the best thing one can do to counter pride and arrogance, is to practice compassion.

Patrul once wrote:

One: Praise is nonsense – empty and unfounded.
Two: Fame just results in a swollen head
Three: Creating a cache of riches out of offerings creates a rich cache of bad karma

Having given up all these three, May I, Old Dog, die like a dog

source:
Enlightened Vagabond – The Life and Teachings of Patrul Rinpoche
by Matthieu Ricard

 

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20: Autumn Dream

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Autumn Dream

Leaves on the ground   hardly any sound
The wind is soft and sway
What is still here will soon fade away
The mystical atmosphere of the forest
Trigger dreamlike images    fantasy of the mind
The magic lake mirror merges the sky and earth

As i drift away swimming in a sea of thoughts
The depth of being    unfathomable
Traveling between waking and sleeping
Life unfolds itself like an infinite dream
Where beings of the old play ancient games
Their dance of illusion distorts reality

Slowly awakening from the catnap
I realize i dozed away again
I can’t help but wonder how i didn’t see
That the whole time sleeping
The world was upside down

16: The Extraordinary Ordinary

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So often we tend to look for the extremes.
It has to be fast, beautiful, precious and rare.
It has to be true, profound, smart.
But having explored these realms of inner riches,
i’ve found that all the beautiful things my mind can create,
have never been able to really fulfill me.
Sure, there have been days in which i’ve been thrilled and exited by an insight,
but as the years have passed i’ve come to learn
that these fleeting moments don’t define my existence.

The extraordinary experiences can become addictive,
like drugs they lure you into the next big high.
But never high enough, as the sky is the limit.
I’ve decided not to give in any longer,
not to crave for that which is delusive.

And so i’ve turned away from getting the next kick,
instead, i’ve learned to recognize what was always there.
The normal every day life which i took for granted,
has learned me life is full of surprises.
That which i once deemed boring and to be avoided,
turned out to be the exact place where the magic happens.

The extraordinary is that the ordinary is extraordinary!
Whether we recognize it or not, each moment is pure magic.
But we don’t need to describe it eloquently with words,
or try to grasp it’s innermost secret meaning.

We are part of the extraordinary ordinary.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is extraordinary!


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The importance of compassion

The importance of compassion – but don’t forget to be wise

Lately I’ve kinda been into Buddhist mode again. During college I first got introduced to the teachings of the Buddha, but apart from a feeling of recognition I never really got into Buddhism. The last year has brought significant changes in my life. Old pain came creeping up to the surface and I had to deal with it. Coincidental or not, but when I experienced the most difficult phase, I found out about an English Buddhist monk called Ajahn Brahm.

Hearing this monk speak, with passion, compassion and a good dose of English humor, I heard a lot of answers I was searching for so long. And it made me realize that it’s perfectly fine to find my own way (be it in Buddhism or any other wisdom tradition). I don’t have to become a monk to study the teachings. I don’t have to be perfect to become wiser and more compassionate. All these things which are so obvious, were somehow kept away from me for all these years. By myself. And that’s one of the great ‘powers’ of Ajahn Brahm. He knows his human psychology. Give people back their feeling of worthiness, of self empowerment. Otherwise they will never be able to take full responsibilities for their lifes.

When I was struggling with life, something came to the surface. I realized it was time to ask for help. I couldn’t do it all by myself. There is interdependence in the world, nothing exists by itself. I depend on others just as much as they depend on me. When I reached out, I was overwhelmed by all the help I received from others. I have never dared to expect so much compassion and love and help, but I got it anyway. It helped me to get up again, to crawl out of the pit of self-pity and lack of self-love and rebuild my confidence and self-esteem. Ajahn Brahm helped me to find the inner source of strength and wisdom again. He wants us to become more and more human, by helping us being humane. To feed our hearts which have had to suffer for so long now. As Lao Tzu said: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

The interesting thing is that I didn’t just learn from Ajahn Brahm. In the course of many years there have been countless teachers and teachings. I always regarded everything as my teacher. So I feel gratitude for all who have helped me along the path either by blocking my way or helping me get over or around the blockade. We tend to forget those who have obstructed us, but don’t they teach us the most valuable lessons? But it can take years before lessons reveal themselves. When I got confronted by old pain, a reminiscence of something which happened in my past, at first I was overwhelmed and shocked. Do I really need to deal with this? Do I really need to look at this again? I thought I had somehow overcome it all, but in the end it turned out I only put it away deep inside in the dark.

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The net of being (by Alex Grey ©)

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The Net of Being

© Alex Grey

Copyright of the image lies with Alex Grey, a great visionairy artist.
Visit his website here:  http://www.alexgrey.com

note: This image of Alex Grey is more revealing than all the words and letters i’ve written underneath.. nevertheless, it might be interesting to read 😉

Something in me has the idea that i need to speak out. But I realize how futile that is. What is there to speak about? It’s the obvious which has been overlooked all the time. The obviousness of being. Just accepting and letting all go. There is this one secret. But it cannot be shared. For there is nobody to share it with. And yet, within all the dualities we play with, it is forever there.

I was always on the guard for complacency, but I never realized it works a little different than I thought it did. And that’s the trick with a lot of things. Every insight tells you the same story. Once you see it, you realize how futile your previous attempts were and how wrong you were. This insight taught me why I always felt incredibly vane. I was afraid of the idea that the world resolves around me. And yet, all spiritual teachings will tell you to turn your focus inwards, towards the self. So I was puzzled by this apparent paradox. I tried to get rid of the feeling of I in my life, but that’s the best way to fuel the whole idea of ‘I’. In the end it’s all I in disguise.

So it’s important to stay open to everything. It might be that everything you think is true, is but half of the story. In my case it was. I was trying so desperately to be myself, that I couldn’t be myself any longer. And yet, in my striving I was of course.. myself! I had only limited myself beyond the body. Stuck within a world of thoughts, I thought I’d find the answer there. But thoughts are mere responses, not answers. They only point back to the answer, which is unspeakable.

I’ll try to explain this a little by telling a personal experience. Ever since I took magic mushrooms some 7 years ago, oneness was the thing I was looking for. In that first trip I sat with my feet in the lotus position and after 30 minutes in that posture, I felt the blanket which was lying on top of me was not just the blanket. It was a part of me, just as much as the body is a part of me. My search for Oneness had started. But it confused me just as much as it excited me. What if it were only the drugs who initiated this feeling? What if it is all just a dream? I have been trying for 7 years now to grasp the true significance of that moment, but only by writing this down I realize it. It was there all along. I just didn’t see it at the time. I never followed the logic of the moment all the way down. Cause if I say that I was one with the blanket, doesn’t that imply that I’m one with everything?

And yet, I realized that in thought, but never really felt it for real. In the trip I felt it, but back then I was still hooked upon the idea that I was somehow living from the center somewhere in my body. It has taken a lot of reading, thinking, discussing, to free me from this delusion. Of course I have this body; of course it needs care and attention. But it’s not everything I am. This body is but a wave in the ocean. The ocean being all at once